Sunday, April 13, 2008

GB 06 = Det 06? = No Way!

On mlive today, Killer had an interesting article regarding how he thinks that trading up hasn't worked for the Lions, and is a bad idea in general. He also blames the lack of late-round picks sticking with the team to not having enough. Interesting.

So I started doing some thinking on the matter. I once did a review of Millen's 7 year tenure, but Killer confined his look to the past two years, so I decided to do the same. Since I've already reviewed the prior two drafts as much as one can right now (Article #1 and #2), and I'm feeling a touch argumentative today, I decided give my opinion on how GB was not at all like Detroit two years ago.

First off, lets start with the Packers in general. Although Killer makes the assumption that due to record the two franchises were at the same point is a fallacy -- the Packers had consistency of offense, a hall-of-fame QB, and many talented veterans. Sherman had a couple years of lousy drafts, but before that they drafted quite well. So they had about 3-4 years of a mediocre drafting to get over. Oooh. They also got a new GM at the time. Did I mention yet that until all of those "quantity" of draft picks began developing finally last season (we have yet to see much of Aaron Rodgers, and he was drafted when? 05?) Thompson was being blasted by Fans, Media, and even players, for not doing enough to bring in talent before Farve retired.

Aaron Rodgers now gets to play "franchise savior" now that Farve is gone...after spending three low-pressure years learning the Pro-game from a hall-of-fame QB. And the Lions had...umm... yeah, name me a guy the Lions had around when Marinelli took over to mentor the younger players??

If you look at the Bobby Ross years, the Lions drafted as poorly then as they have under Millen. This is not a new phenomenon -- the Lions had been drafting poorly for three times as long as the Packers when the dual-coaching change took place. Also, they still were mediocre during most of that frame, and thus didn't have multiple top-ten busts hitting the cap, and the roster.

The Packers Offense was always rolling well -- the defense and the Oline needed some work when McCarthy and Thompson came in, but both still had a solid base -- a far cry from the Lions needing Dline, CB, S, LB, QB, and Oline when Marinelli came in. Gee, I wonder why Marinelli has had some trouble?

Besides Farve, GB already had aging veterans who knew the system on the roster who could mentor the younger guys and help them develop. Thus, it makes a lot of sense to trade down, get lots of picks, and let guys compete and learn while the Vets are still there to start. They could stand pat in FA and the draft because they at least had a foundation. Marinelli didn't have the luxury in Detroit. He had to bring in FA to get the veterans because of prior screw-ups that essentially let the best of the Detroit veterans go. (Which wasn't much, sadly.)

I could go on and on about the GB comparison (I used to live in the UP of Michigan, in Marquette, which is more like an extension of northern Wisconsin.), but I think you see my point. The only thing they really had in common was a bad record and a coaching change in the same year (coaching changes usually following bad records indicates they are both sides of the same coin.)

Detroit two years ago (and longer) was like a house that has "burned down" -- if you have seen a house after someone torches it, you will realize it is not "gone" -- cleaning it up properly and salvaging what you can literally often takes just as long as rebuilding the house itself. You need to salvage what you can, clear out the debris, check and re-build the foundation, and then you can go about putting up a new home. It isn't easy, and it takes time.

When restoration companies come in after a fire, they take those items that are possibly salvageable and there are specialist companies that clean them. If they can't get it back to new, then you get new. Kalimba in particular strikes me as that type of deal -- Rod was looking for salvage, couldn't afford to dump everyone at the same time, and hoped he could clean him up -- Kalimba has the physical tools, and even motivation -- but come game day, he just can't seem to put it all together. I don't like the size of the contract he got, although it really isn't but a pittance compared to what even moderate DE's get now. So right now there are 13 players from when he started -- that is all the "foundation bricks" he had left! Now he has a pretty young team, with a good mix of veterans to teach. He had to build it, but seems to be on the right track with the process. He had to get the debris out of the way before he could start building the foundation. As far as I can see, the Lions are getting close to where the Packers were two years ago -- they have good vets teaching up and coming players; they are drafting to upgrade over average starters, with no "must pick" position locking them in; they have a veteran QB starting while a young signal caller(s) [Stanton, and to a lesser extent Orlovsky] are learning in the wings. Now, they need a couple of years for the young guys they already picked to really begin to blossom, and to keep building depth and upgrading units.

I disagree strongly with the assertion that trading up has "always" hurt the Lions. KJ ended up not being able to stay healthy, but was very productive when utilized correctly and on the field. He just spent too much time banged up. Cody has been a disappointment, but may blossom this year. If not, he has still been a serviceable rotation guy. S. Rogers has to be called a success -- they traded a 2 and 4 to move up in the 2 to get him -- he played for the Lions what, 6 seasons? and was a pro-bowl level DT for at least half those plays. Then, the Lions traded him for a 3rd rounder AND a young starting CB. Lets not forget where the Lions would be if they had not traded Rogers. They would be looking at taking best CB available at 15, or in the early rounds...and they would have immediate needs at LB, DE,OT, CB and RB and only 3 picks in first three rounds to fill them. Now, they have 3 major needs, 4 picks to use to fill them, and will be able to get an additional DT late 3rd, or most likely 4th or 5th. Trading up, in the long run, worked out quite well with Rogers.

Stanton, IAF and Alexander are too early to tell, although a 16 game rookie starter who kept getting better as the season out of moving up into the second for a 3 and 5 isn't too bad in my book, that's for sure! Davis was all on the scouting dept by the time you get to that point in the draft; they just didn't get what a T2 corner was. I'm sure hope they do now, from the sounds of the effort Marinelli and his staff put into educating them this off season!

don't get me wrong, I think that there is a time for each strategy. Sometimes just staying put makes you miss out a player you really wanted that someone else is willing to go get. But so far, in the case of Detroit's moves up, I don't really see where the issue is for the most part. If you look proportionately, the scouting department really just wasn't doing the proper evaluation on the late rounders. Lets hope that has changed, or the Lions could have 25 late round picks and not come up with any starters.

Tomorrow I will look at my overall drafting philosophies as we are looking at getting closer to the draft, including advantages/disatvantages of trading up and down, when it is and isn't feasible, and what tactics I think apply to the Lions.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!


Anonymous said...

Yea, Killer's article today was a bit farfetched for me today as well. Even if the Lions had went 0/10 when trading up I don't think it is the type of thing that should be ruled out *SOLELY* on the basis of past history. If you see a player that looks really good, fits your system, and will probably be gone by the time you pick should do what you can to get them on your team.

Is it risky? Yes
Are you putting yourself on the line by doing so? Yes

But people have to see that the potential benefit in such situtaions should take precendence over past history or anything else.

Also, I think Killer's means of measuring the draft picks was off. It isn't fair to measure prior drafts simply by whether the player is still on the team or not. As Detfan said, just because S. Rogers is gone doesn't mean he wasnt a good player...even last year he had an above average year if you compare his stats to the majority of DT's in the league. It's just an example of how- as Lions fans- we often put our blinders on to any positive roles our team and players take and overemphasive every negative aspect about them.

Also, Killer's analysis of last years "trade-ups" is borderline shameful. If he would have said something along the lines of, "the Lions passed up on a good LB to pick up DE" then I would have been okay with that...but acting like 5.0. is a bust because he was inactive for part of the year is rediculous. He wasn't spectacular by any means, but not many rookies are - especially at DE. Give him a few years at least before you cast him off completely, he at least deserves that.

Also - and this part made me lose some respect for Killer as a journalist (not that I had a whole lot to begin with) - he completely dismissed the incredible rookie season that G. Alexander had and talked about how he's got competition for his spot as a safety. At this point in the article Killer was very obviously trying to curb the details to his way of thinking, disregarding any elements of the story that didn't fit his argument.

Even if the Lions had never moved up and taken a good player, that isn't a good enough reason to miss out on someone that is a good fit for your team. But even given that argument, Killer is out of touch and way off base on this one. Some of his points were well taken but this was really just a fluff, opinion piece that I would expect from a casual fan...not an actual journalist.


Anonymous said...

Well said, streetworm. I agree with all you said.


CHIEFGER139 said...

you should beable to trade up and down and still keep the same amount of picks-if we trade down we just take a lower 1st rd and there 2nd pick and give them one of our 3rds, both teams can draft the same amount of players-just at differnt points in the draft-sure we gave up two 5ths for one pick-but it doesnt have to be that way-and truthfully i think were in better shape this year to get the mid-level players we can afford rather than being a top 10 pick team-have to wait and see.

CHIEFGER139 said...

one other thing
I hate being compared to greenbay- I cant stand that team-and im glad farve finally is gone-hes been a thorn in our side and i look forward to finally being able to beat them at least one game this year-and would totally love to finally end there home streak against us-if that happens we finally turned the corner. I hope the next lambeau leap is off the cliff and they finally come crashing down to reality and the bottom of the division.

Anonymous said...

Great analysis once again, '79!

A few more things Killer misses in his analysis:

1. GB has a recent Super Bowl and a winning attitude in their locker room

2. GB has a HOF QB who was more than just talent, who made a HUGE difference in the players around him

Since Favre has been there, you could never label the Packers as a team in "complete disarray". Since Millen has been with the Lions, you could ONLY label Detroit as a team in complete disarray.

Personally, I think Rod is doing a lot of good things now. He's had a learning curve, but he is on the upside now. I believe Millen, for his part, recognizes his shortcomings and is giving Rod the entire leash to try to save face.

My evaluation of Rod Marinelli as Head Coach / GM / Director of player personnel starts with the 2007 season.

Let me ask you this: Can you think of a more difficult head coaching challenge than being the HC of the Lions?

- KCLionfan

steamroller78 said...

A little off the overall topic here DETFAN1979, but when we were discussing the Dallas trade scenario last week, I did not really take into account all of Detroit's needs. Dallas has 2 first round picks and an ILB in Akin Ayodele who could very well be trade bait. I have a post on that on my site from earlier this month if you want to check that out. A Dallas trade in some shape is very likely to take place, especially if Dominique Rodgers Cromartie is avilable at #15.

Anonymous said...

This is completely off topic but I noticed something on SI that is relevant to the Lions' RB needs in the draft. The article is entitled Small-school sleepers, here's the part that includes information about the Lions:

Tim Hightower, RB, Richmond: Scouts were surprised Hightower was not invited to the combine in February, especially after he scored 20 touchdowns last season. The 220-pound back later impressed by running 4.51 in the 40 at his pro day. Projected as a solid middle-round pick, Hightower has visited nearly a dozen franchises, including the Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders, both of whom are interested in his services.

I don't know that I would want him too much, he seems undersized, but it's hard to make any solid judgment without a little more information either way.


CHIEFGER139 said...

if hes 220 hes the same size and speed as mendenhal,smith,forte the guys theyve been looking at-we will have to dig up his video and put it on mlive-wonder if he can catch like the others??

Anonymous said...

Marinelli does SO MANY things well.

The things the scouting department gets are drafting people not at catching the ball and not in the secondary (stopping the catchers).

This year, they are set at WR and TE. They do NOT have to draft this position.

Then, Marinelli went out and signed a bunch of CB's and Safeties.

Now, scouting doesn't have to do it! Now we can draft a bunch of big "thumpers" that (I'll say it for him) "Block out the Sun!" and "Tackle like Trucks".

Just as long as they get one speedy little shit that can return kicks and punts, I'll think it a complete draft.


(and, I went back and posted on the LB comments, too).

Anonymous said...

And, I was so peed at Killer's article, I didn't post about his "review". Calling Jones or Rogers busts because they are no longer with the team is crap. They were Pro-Bowl, and could-have-been Pro-Bowl talent.

I couldn't agree more. I worked in Newberry (and lived) for four years. The whole U.P. claims to be Cheeseheads (except Newberry).

Tonight's trivia: Why does half of Newberry stay loyal to the Lions?


Anonymous said...


actually, he's bigger.

You have Stewart and Mendenhall as the big backs at 225. The rest are in the 210 range.

Anonymous said...

KC Lionfan

Yes, head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Here is a guy that was already asked to resign by his owner (but then didn't fire him). Talk about a guy that can't have a good feeling, that may be the definition of a lame duck coach.

DetFan1979 said...

Streetworm -- right on! I was too irritated last night to get my thoughts in the right order on everything.

Nubber - Same-minds thing again -- first thing I thought of for KC was Raiders -- they are BY FAR the WORST franchise in the NFL right now, hands down. And they went south WAY faster and farther than the Lions. BTW KC -- more good points I missed taking on!

Nubber -- I am a Northern Michigan U alum and spent about 6 years in the UP living in Marquette. I think half of Newberry stays Lions fans just to piss off the other half and give them something to argue about all winter long. There were/are quite a few Lions fans in Marquetee too. And down near the canals and the bridge as well. Manistique and Menominee -- forget it. Cheeseheads all.

Okay, worst part about the trip back to the UP when I was in college was that I would be heading to the UP on a Sunday afternoon after visiting my wife (when we were engaged and she lived near Lansing). I could catch the game until I go to the bridge -- and then I couldn't get a station with it until I was about another half-hour down US2 -- at which point the game was often over, or some blessed times close to it. Hated when I missed the end, and then couldn't find out the score for the next coupel of hours because if they weren't playing the Packers, no one would know or care until I got pretty much into Marquette. Gas station worker that was usually on in Choclay was a big Lions fan, so he would let me in on what happened. Anyways,

I read Killer's article and was so ticked I was yelling out loud at it. My wife literally tuned off my monitor so I couldn't see it - Shocked me back to sanity, so I decided to debunk a bit of it in venting form. Don't do it often, but heck -- even I'm allowed sometimes, right?

I still have a bit of work to do, as it is hard to find good info on draft day trades anywhere to build my case for/against trading up/down -- so I may have to just use a few examples, and go the rest on opinion.

Great comments all!! Really hit a nerve last couple of days. I'll have a primary post again tomorrow evening, and likely again on Thursday as Wednesday is Soccer evening practice, so it pushes the whole night-time routine thing back.

Nubber - nice take on the scouting process. Sadly, I think it's right on. But you missed the fact that they all know which regional scale-model-train to pick up to keep Millen happy -- "Umm...yeah Mr.Millen - Charlie sounded great - don't think there's any off-field issues at all. Had a bag of Doritos and some flap-jacks with him. But the best part is, check out this Spartan-Themed Dining car I got you!" "Good work! Promotion for you!"


Have a great evening all -- and keep up the informed comments!